FINALLY FREE FROM ISIS: Christians celebrate first Mass in two years within church's charred remains
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In a moving ceremony, Christians gathered together in a Catholic church burned and vandalized by ISIS soldiers.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - When ISIS took over the predominantly Christian city of Qaraqosh, many people were killed.
Homes were looted, women were taken as slaves, children were forced to join the militants and chaos reigned.
All Christian symbols were destroyed, churches were burned and beautiful stained-glass windows were shattered.
For two years Christians were unable to openly worship the Lord, to congregate and celebrate Mass, or to wear Christian symbols - until now.
In the charred remains of a church covered in debris, Catholic citizens and soldiers gathered to celebrate the first Mass in two years.
Several came together at the Church of the Immaculate Conception, where church bells sounded for the first time in years.
"Today Qaraqosh is free of Daesh [ISIS]," Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Butrus Moshe proclaimed.
"Our role today is to remove all the remnants of Daesh. This includes erasing sedition, separation and conflicts, which victimized us."
He continued, adding: "Political and sectarian strife, separating between one man and another, between ruler and follower, these mentalities must be changed."
Members stood in agreement with the bishop, much must be done before the world will return to peace but the Church is ready to move.
Qaraqosh was once home to the largest Christian community in all Iraq. It housed at least a quarter of the country's Christians and was a place of respite from the dominating Muslim culture surrounding it.
Unfortunately, on August 6, 2014, Kurdish troops stationed at the city for protection withdrew. ISIS took advantage and stole the city, as well as three other Christian-majority towns.
In the fight to take back Mosul, Iraqi forces cleared ISIS from Qaraqosh and many other surrounding cities.
Now liberated from Sharia law, Qaraqosh is free to clean their churches, welcome its citizens back and rebuild.
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